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February 24, 2024

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Hit The Hay, Volume 3 (Sound Asleep Records)

By: Gary "Pig" Gold

Take a moment, won't you all, to offer thanks to music lovers like Jerker Emanuelson, and especially record companies like his Sound Asleep operation. For from far off Sweden, this man -- and this label -- are busy doing more to keep alive the true, red hot 'n blue sounds of America than most any other AMERICAN-based label I can think of! Yes indeed, something is definitely askew here, but that's not why we're here now.

Because we're busy here listening to the third installment in Sound Asleep's widely-coveted "Hit The Hay" series: Big, bold and beautiful compilations one and all which have been uniformly packed end-to-end with some of the best heart-felt, yet fully bop-worthy, guitar and snare-driven melodies around. And Volume 3 is far from an exception to this solid gold rule! For example, there's Blue Cartoon's wholly Proclaimers-armed-with-a-closet-full-of-Telecasters "This Time Around," Sorry's equally pure-pop-worthy "Dear Shauna" (not to mention "Kay" by Mark Bacino), Michael Shelley's delightful-and-then-some (Al Anderson-penned, by the way!) "Ridin' In My Car," and even a self-admittedly McGuiness-Flint corker from legendary Young Fresh Fellow / current REM utility-man Scott McCaughey's Minus 5!

That particular wonder is entitled "Ghost Tarts Of Stockholm," which may indeed hint that, unlike what's left of its staid ol' major-label counterparts right here in the US of A, Jerker's label never once shirks from its duty to poke some of the f-u-n back into r 'n' r. Sure, you'll hear hints of tried and trusted musical friends from ages past herein (Baker Maultsby turns in the Great Buckaroos Song That Never Was, Walt Bucklin and the Skeletons both conjure no less than Buddy Holly and his Crickets, and Robbie Fulks even turns in a wholly Porter and Dolly-worthy duet with Kelly Willis!) Nevertheless, this is a record full of sounds -- and artists -- who aren't, and should never BE, afraid to tip their hats occasionally towards the rear-view. In other words, herein's a bunch of musicians who've surely worshipped their fore-players, yet are having a ball dragging their beloved sounds and styles towards the new century and beyond. Praise is due them one and all and we should ALL thank Sound Asleep for continuing to bring these national treasures to our hopefully undivided attention.

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